Tips on Likeness: 1. Basics
Today(Jan 4 2016), I’ll be replying to as many questions/messages as I can, and a several of the questions so far, require a tip/tutorial posting for each. Here is one of them.
How do you draw a character from any angle looking the same?For example, how do you look at a photo and see the character from the front and be able to draw him ¾, but still looking the same?
The biggest factor in capturing the likeness of a face in any given angle is in correctly studying the proportion of the individual’s facial features in relation to one another.
If you study different faces in comparison to an evenly proportioned face (using loomis method), most individuals have certain features that stand out.
These are the features that create unique/memorable proportion of the individual’s face that you need to capture in order to get the likeness.
Sections to look for the unique proportions (simplified):
- overall head shape
- T-zone of the face (eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth)
- Jaw size
- head size (hairline above and below)
- Ear size
** look for width, length, and overall curvatures in proportion
Exaggerating this unique proportion of the face will enhance the likeness to that person as long as you don’t completely disrupt the rest of the relative proportion of the other features. This is also why good caricaturists are able to capture the likeness of the person even when they go for extreme proportions because they focus on exaggerating the unique proportion that’s already in that person’s face.
(art work by Pete Emslie)
Once you figure out the unique proportion of the person’s face, then you need to figure out the detailed characteristics of each features. There are too much for me to cover in this one article, but the main point is that, You need to separately study different types of each features such as: ( eyes- eye brows- nose- mouth- Jaw line- Cheek line)
Practice each types in different angles. If you’re having trouble with figuring out the angles, pick an actor or actress with the type of feature you want to study(e.g. droopy eyes), and find a video clip with them in it. Pause the video on different angles for you to practice off of.
With the individual’s unique proportion and details of the features in mind, now you need to place the features on to a strong base structure of a face. There are different theories and methods for drawing a base structure for a face. I personally recommend studying the “Loomis method” by Andrew Loomis.
Step by Step:
1. Draw the base structure in multiple angles.
2. Rough-in feature locations. FOCUS on the unique proportion.
3. Render in the features. FOCUS on the detailed characteristics of each.
If you stare at a person long enough, your eyes get accustomed, and what used to look unusual to you get familiarized and no longer stand out.
Thus, to capture the likeness of an existing individual, instead of only referring to a single shot image of that person, studying a group shot is a lot more helpful. This is because if you use a group shot, the contrast between different faces will help the individual’s unique features to stand out constantly.
This may seem like a whole a lot of steps and things to keep in mind just to draw one face but eventually with practice, you’ll get to a point where you no longer need to take all the steps or spend as much time in figuring each out.
To conclude this long-ass post, I would like to say that, while these are all important skills to practice, also keep in mind that capturing the high level of likeness in face and keeping it consistent is not always the number one priority unless that’s the main focus of the type of work (e.g. portraitures). Some professionals have to balance out how much time they spend on likeness of the face and rely more on broader elements like, colour, hairstyle and outfit in order to spend more time on other areas of the work such as composition, character acting and cinematography depending on the type of work.
So ya.. it’s important but don’t beat yourself up to the point of hating your own work ( - v-)